link to

My company teaches English face-to-face or over Skype. See my website:

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

307: False friends

The term "false friends", from a language point of view, means those words which sound the same in the foreign language but which have a different meaning. In Russian there are quite a few of these false friends, some of which are shown here, on the Master Russian site.

I came across this poster at a bus stop the other day - it is quite common to see "public service" announcements - and, as you can probably guess, it is instructions on how to recognize the symptoms of stroke. The Russian word for stroke is инсульт, which is pronounced insult. The primary usage of the English word insult is translated into Russian as оскорбление.
1.   can't smile or the mouth is skewed at an angle?
2.   can't lift both arms, or is one weaker?
3.   can't pronounce their name clearly.
4.   Doctors have just 4.5 hours to save the life of the patient.
I'm in UK at the moment and on Sunday I will be in Scotland and will take a train ride on the Jacobite steam train on the West Highland Railway line from Fort William to Mallaig. Parts of the journey (Glenfinnan viaduct) were used as the backdrop in some of the Harry Potter films. The scenery is magnificent. Looking forward to it very much.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

306: Fate?

As I get older I am coming more and more to the conclusion that our destiny is preordained - that somebody or something is steering us as individuals. Perhaps we can make small trimming adjustments to the sails ourselves but fate has already decided what is to happen to us.
I often travel up to four hours a day on the Moscow Metro so in theory I have more chance than most of being involved in any accident.
Luckily, for me at least, the horrific accident on the metro this morning, which has claimed the lives of more than 20 passengers and injured more than 100 others, didn't involve me at all. I did pass by later on a parallel line and the sardines were packed tighter than usual. The police presence was also much larger.
All the metro stations were playing a standard pre-recorded message "due to technical reasons no trains are running between Kievskaya and Molodyozhnaya".The expression "due to technical reasons" is often trotted out, whatever the real reason for the 'incident'.
Here are the details

Something else happened to me today, which I'm not a liberty to discuss here. Suffice to say that I thought that chapter of my life was over. Apparently not. There are more pages to be written. But not here.

On the plus side, it is nice to see Moscow beginning to embrace recycling. Must remember to save my empty bottles and newspapers rather than just chucking them willy-nilly down the 'chute'.

 Talking about fate reminded me of the expression "the fickle finger of fate" often voiced on one of my favourite comedy programmes from the 60s: "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In". Who, of my readers, is old to enough to remember the show? Is it so dated now, or still funny?